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Catastrophe

Listening to the radio this morning, indeed most mornings recently, it would appear that the world is in crisis.

It’s too easy to consider the world from an English perspective, or even an European outlook (if indeed we can consider ourselves so classified these days), or a wider Western world, that includes other places, such as the United States of America and Canada.

The horrific picture shown above was found searching for one word: catastrophe. It was found by scrolling down through images, each of which showed screens for a TV show called (I presume) catastrophe.

That, itself, shows how indifferent we have all become. The tittle-tattle found on our screens is now more important than reality. That’s more the case in the West than elsewhere. The USA is now getting its share of extreme events, most of which disrupt the lives of its citizens. I’m not sure if they go so far as to disturb the US President from playing golf, or what’s happening in the latest soaps, but they may.

The European Commission has made many statements about climate change. They agree there will be problems if the world’s temperature rises by more than 2°C. They go further to say that as homo sapiens we cannot live in conditions that exceed 4°C – it will just be too hot for us to live. That’s an horrific prediction. It outbids the results of our top football teams.

That temperature rise is not much above our normal range – after all many of us stream towards the Mediterranean coast each year to bask in a warmer sun.

There are huge consequences from that small change, many of which we are already seeing:

  • the inundation of coastal cities;
  • increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer and wet regions wetter;
  • unprecedented heatwaves in many regions, especially in the tropics;
  • substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions;
  • increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones;
  • irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.
  • the inundation of coastal cities;

The unspoken consequence is that we may not be able to physically survive such temperature increases. We will all die!

It’s awful to speculate: but I will.

In foreseeable decades we will not need so many people in order to create wealth. Robots (to simplify a term) will replace many jobs. Obviously tasks in manufacturing can be replaced, and that’s already happening. Look onwards to replacing retail staff. Even accountants and solicitors can be replaced – more accurately and cheaply.

That list can be extended exponentially. People are becoming unnecessary. That statement extends far beyond over-population, which we have ignored for several centuries.

According to the OECD in 2012 the top 0.6% of world population (consisting of adults with more than US$1 million in assets) or the 42 million richest people in the world held 39.3% of world wealth. The next 4.4% (311 million people) held 32.3% of world wealth. The bottom 95% held 28.4% of world wealth (that ain’t a lot of cash to share around).

That disparity has only grown greater since 2012. It’s difficult to comprehend the logic that makes people seek more power and money.

This year, we are told, that the richest folk are:

  • Carlos Slim Helu. Net Worth: $57.6 Billion. … a Lebanese-born Mexican he does invest, and makes more money
  • Mark Zuckerberg. Net Worth: $65.8 Billion. …
  • Larry Ellison. Net Worth: $66 Billion. …
  • Amancio Ortega. Net Worth: $68.7 Billion. …
  • Warren Buffett. Net Worth: $81.9 Billion. …
  • Bernard Arnault. Net Worth: $94.7 Billion. …
  • Bill Gates. Net Worth: $105.3 Billion. …
  • Jeff Bezos. Net Worth: $107.8 Billion.

Bill Gates is slipping down the list. It is possibly because he is now recognising himself as a philanthropist.

How do any of these people sleep at night?

Perhaps they dream of folks sleeping on the streets of all ‘Westernised’ cities or imagine themselves over lunch in countries like Liberia (GNI per capita: $710), The Central African Republic (GNI per capita: $730), Burundi (GNI per capita: $770), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (GNI per capita: $870) or Niger (GNI per capita: $990) where their lunch may cost as much as a year’s income for the poor folk that surround them.

Switzerland has wealth per adult of $539,657, that means just 0.1% of the world’s population has 2.3% of the top 1% of global wealth, which makes a Swiss eleven times wealthier than the average world citizen. Belgium, Australia and New Zealand all do very well. The USA includes some of the richest folk but 20 million Americans have incomes in the lowest 20% of global wealth. Inequality is a curse that should, and can, be avoided.

These short paragraphs demonstrate the dangers we all face, and the savage inequalities that billions face every day. These can be avoided. If Jeff Bezos, and many others, paid their taxes and gave workers a fair return on the investments in labour, energy and life, we could all live a better life.

War could be replaced by Rugby, as the World Cup, now brilliantly organised by Japan is showing: https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/

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Just a selection of podcasts I’ve made, in no particular order. There will be many more!

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Loss of Control

creature on single wheel machine hurtling down a hill

Don’t you feel that way? The system has taken control, and you are no longer in charge, not just of the words you write but how they are displayed, and who decides what will happen.

One day recently I was told, by a friend, that my site was down. It turns out that the server company I have used for the past 20 years had gone bust. I heard nothing from them. Years of work disappeared overnight. Very disappointing.

We move on. I find a new company. All seems well. It seems that I can migrate the content of my old site to the new place. That was true, but for one problem. I no longer have access to my old site so cannot add the software that will allow the migration, that came from https://www.siteground.co.uk/

Let’s move on to Stripe.

This is a Californian-based company offering similar services to PayPal. I wanted to use their services. Set up by Patrick Collison, an Irishman, it seemed like good news. The online form asked for my postcode. I gave it, and was told that it didn’t exist. I emailed my concern, only to be told that Stripe makes the decisions, and there’s nothing I can do about that. Sounds Irish enough for me.

Recently Marks and Spencers https://www.marksandspencer.com closed their store in my town. I had a Sparks card, sort of a thank you by the company, that awards points based on purchases. I had 5,000 points, but they were not showing on my online account.

I sent the M&S Referral team an email. I received a quick reply from Emma, I respond, then Sally replies, I respond, Sarah replies, I respond . I received a total of twelve replies from different people before they agreed to issue a new card. I was told to telephone their company when I received the card. Thirty minutes on the phone, with me paying, before the lovely girl sorted it out for me. I now have 5000 points on a card. Now what do I do with these? I’d offered to take the last lady away for the weekend, but that doesn’t seem to be an option.

These are not just moans. They are relevant. Our job, as clients and consumers now only amounts to paying as much money as can be squeezed out of us. The real purpose is to make money.

We need to start resisting.

 


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Trevor Lockwood

Trevor Lockwood
Yes, it is me!